PHOENIX -- Whether it was the most experienced pitcher in camp (free-agent pickup Brett Anderson) or the least experienced (2019 first-round Draft pick Ethan Small), there were two primary tasks on Wednesday, when pitchers and catchers formally reported to American Family Fields of Phoenix for the start of Spring Training.
1) Find one’s way around.
2) Make some introductions.
Or, as Anderson put it: “Make sure not to get lost and go somewhere I’m not supposed to be. Introduce myself to the coaches and whatnot, then sit back and observe. Make my judgments from afar, I guess. Introduce myself to people, then tweet.”
We think Anderson was joking.
Small had a similar aim, minus the social media.
“I’m just going to take it one day at a time and treat it like I have nothing to lose,” Small said.
The two were on opposite ends of the spring spectrum. Anderson is assured a spot in Milwaukee’s Opening Day rotation after signing a one-year deal as part of the Brewers’ offseason roster overhaul, one of the organization’s 14 Major League acquisitions. Small is assured a spot somewhere in the Minor Leagues after making his first seven professional starts last year. He didn’t learn until several weeks ago that he was invited to big league camp.
“I had no idea,” Small said. “At the facility I train at back home, [former first-round picks Casey Mize, Daniel Lynch and Brent Rooker] were like, ‘Did you get the invite?’ I said, ‘No, did you guys?’ They were like, ‘Yeah.’ I was fine with that, but they kept bothering me about it -- then I got the call. …
“At the end of the day, it’s what I’ve worked for all offseason. Whatever I’m able to produce this spring, if it’s good enough, it is. If it’s bad, we’ll keep working. That’s kind of how it is.”
He hopes one day to be in the same position as Anderson, who has parts of 11 Major League seasons under his belt and is coming off a healthy and productive season for the Oakland A’s. He pitched 176 innings, which would have led a 2019 Brewers team that didn’t have a single pitcher log the 162 innings necessary to qualify for the ERA title.
Anderson is one of three newcomers to the rotation, with fellow left-hander Eric Lauer and right-hander Josh Lindblom. Both were similarly finding their way around the sprawling clubhouse on Wednesday.
“I had a healthy year last year, knock on wood, and hopefully can replicate that,” Anderson said. “Continue to build on some things I did last year and hopefully strike out some people. I wasn’t very good at that. As long as I work fast and keep the baseball on the ground and let the defense work, I feel l can do that. I’d like to miss some more bats. It would be nice to get some strikeouts here and there. But, like I said, when I’m going well, I work fast and efficient, and keeping the ball on the ground, and let the defense work for me, and hopefully make the games quicker.”
Here’s a rundown of what lies ahead for Anderson, Small and the rest of the Brewers this spring:
First pitchers and catchers workout
Thursday, Feb. 13
Full squad report date
Monday, Feb. 17
First full-squad workout
Tuesday, Feb. 18
New faces to know
LHP Brett Anderson, OF Avisaíl García, INF Jedd Gyorko, INF Ryon Healy, LHP Eric Lauer, RHP Josh Lindblom, INF Mark Mathias, C Omar Narváez, RHP David Phelps, 1B Justin Smoak, INF Luis Urías, INF Ronny Rodríguez, RHP Eric Yardley and assistant hitting coach Jacob Cruz.
Top prospects to know in camp
RHP Zack Brown (No. 3 Brewers prospect, per MLB Pipeline), OF Corey Ray (No. 4), LHP Ethan Small (No. 5), C Mario Feliciano (No. 8), RHP Trey Supak (No. 11), RHP Drew Rasmussen (No. 12), RHP Devin Williams (No. 13), INF Lucas Erceg (No. 14), C Payton Henry (No. 15), OF Tyrone Taylor (No. 24), RHP Bobby Wahl (No. 29), LHP/OF Clayton Andrews (No. 30), RHP J.P. Feyereisen, RHP Thomas Jankins.
Other notable non-roster invitees
INF Andrés Blanco, OF Keon Broxton, RHP Jake Faria, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP Mike Morin, 1B Logan Morrison, INF Jace Peterson, RHP Aaron Wilkerson.
Where is the facility?
American Family Fields of Phoenix is at the corner of 51st Ave. and Indian School Rd. The mailing address is 3805 N. 53rd Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85031.
Can fans attend workouts?
Yes, the Brewers’ camp is one of the most accessible to fans in the Cactus League. When the facility was renovated prior to 2019 Spring Training, it was built so fans entering the stadium either pass through the Crew’s two primary practice fields -- including one built to replicate the dimensions of Miller Park -- which are often used for batting practice prior to home games, or pass by the large agility field and covered bullpens on their way to the home-plate gate. Before the games begin, fans have even greater access to workouts when they take place at the four other practice fields that are in view of the public.
Saturday, Feb. 22, at 2:05 p.m. CT vs. the Rangers at Surprise Stadium.
First home game
Sunday, Feb. 23, at 2: 05 p.m. CT vs. the Padres at American Family Fields of Phoenix.
First TV game
Monday, Feb. 24, vs. the Angels.
One other notable game
Saturday, Feb. 29, at 2:05 p.m. CT vs. the Cubs at Sloan Park. The Brewers and Cubs meet twice in Spring Training -- the other matchup is on Sunday, March 22, at 2:05 p.m. CT at American Family Fields of Phoenix -- before opening the regular season at Miller Park.
Last game in Arizona
Sunday, March 22, vs. the Cubs.
Any additional exhibitions before the regular season?
Yes, the Brewers will host the Royals in a pair of 6:40 p.m. CT games at Miller Park on March 23-24. Tickets are already on sale at Brewers.com/Tickets.
Opening Day date, time, opponent and location
Thursday, March 26, vs. the Cubs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT at Miller Park.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.